Loneliness and attention to social threat in young adults: findings from an eye tracker study

Bangee, Munirah, Nowland, Rebecca, Bridges, Nikola, Rotenberg, Ken J. and Qualter, Pamela (2014) Loneliness and attention to social threat in young adults: findings from an eye tracker study. Personaility and Individual Differences, 63. pp. 16-23. ISSN 0191-8869

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Cacioppo and Hawkley (2009) have hypothesized that lonely people are hyper-vigilant to social threat, with earlier work (Jones & Carver, 1991) linking this bias specifically to threats of social rejection or social exclusion. The current study examined this hypothesis in eighty-five young adults (mean age = 18.22;SD = 0.46; 17–19 years in age) using eye-tracking methodology, which entailed recording their visual attention to social rejecting information. We found a quadratic relation between the participants’ loneliness, as assessed by the revised UCLA loneliness scale, and their visual attention to social threat immediately after presentation (2 s). In support of Cacioppo and Hawkley’s (2009) hypothesis, it was found that young adults in the upper quartile range of loneliness exhibited visual vigilance of socially threatening stimuli compared to other participants. There was no relation between loneliness and visual attention to socially threatening stimuli across an extended subsequent period of time. Implications for intervention are considered.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Loneliness, hyper-vigilance, social threat, rejection, eye-tracker, attentional bias, attention
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Divisions: School of Education and Psychology > Psychology
Depositing User: Sarah Taylor
Date Deposited: 13 Mar 2017 13:51
Last Modified: 13 Mar 2017 13:51
URI: http://ubir.bolton.ac.uk/id/eprint/1112

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